The former Moby Rx at 225 Waterman Drive in South Portland has been purchased by CVS Health, eliminating the last independent pharmacy in the city. Krysteana Scribner / The Forecaster

SOUTH PORTLAND — The last locally owned, independent pharmacy in the city has been purchased by CVS Health.

“We’re no longer a pharmacy. We’re transitioning now into a durable medical equipment store,” Moby Rx owner Momen Abdullayof said Wednesday morning.

Abdullayof

Abdullayof stood in the center of the store at Waterman Drive and Broadway, now full of empty shelves, and sighed.

“There’s still a lot of work to do,” he said.

Abdullayof has been a licensed pharmacist since 1998. He worked at the former Rite Aid pharmacy on Market Street, now CVS, for 11 years before opening Moby Rx in 2011.

Moby Rx functioned as a full-service pharmacy for eight years, selling medical equipment, personal-care products, and offering over-the-counter medications, vitamins and supplements.

Abdullayof said he, his wife Betsy, and store manager Stephanie Owen are hoping to transform the business into a retailer of medical equipment and CBD products. The name of the business will become Moby CBD, and it will remain in part of the building at 225 Waterman Drive.

Owen said Moby Rx has struggled because the cost of medications increased, but insurance and reimbursement rates did not.

She said corporate organizations like Rhode Island-based CVS are able to buy in bulk, making it easier for them to get drugs at cheaper rates. Insurance companies see that price difference, Owen explained, and aren’t as willing to support independent pharmacies.

Owen said CVS bought all of Moby’s inventory, and patient records were transferred to the CVS at 21 Market St. on July 9.

In the coming months, Moby will offer medical supplies such as bathroom aids, walkers, wheelchairs, canes and compression stockings.

“There is a need for it, there’s not place in this area that does it,” Owen said. “Unfortunately, we won’t be dealing with  insurance agencies anymore, so we will be doing cash and carry, meaning the customer pays out of pocket for their purchase and can submit a claim to their insurance agency if they want to get reimbursed.”

The business will also sell products whose ingredients include CBD, a naturally occurring compound found in cannabis that has been used to treat nausea, appetite loss and insomnia, among other symptoms.

“We were seeing a huge need for that, and a lot of people were talking about it,” Owen said. “People who have been on pain medication take it and see amazing results, elderly individuals take it for arthritis. Instead of taking pharmaceutical drugs, we’re seeing people who’d rather tackle something more natural and we’ve tried to cater to that need.”

CVS Health Public Relations Manager Stephanie Cunha said in an email that CVS and Moby have been working together to ensure the transition is seamless for patients, and their access to pharmacy care is not interrupted.

But Owen said some customers are understandably upset.

“Momen has been working for the CVS location, where files were transferred at 51 Market St., and talking to customers,” she said. “He’s taking their complaints, trying to work with them and ease the transition from a very local and personal experience at a local pharmacy going over to a corporate.”

Owen said Moby plans to sublease half its building to another tenant, which will help defray some monthly costs as the business tries to transition.

“We’re definitely bummed about all of this, it was completely unexpected,” she said. “But all we can do is move forward.”